In their study of carbon dioxide emissions during the pandemic, an global team of scientists calculated that pollution levels were heading back up and, for the year, would end up between four and seven percent lower than 2019 levels.
In 2019, the world emitted around 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per day by burning fossil fuels and cement production, the researchsaid.
Early indications of the global impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic show a dramatic fall in global greenhouse gas emissions, and particularly in transport as the shift to working from home drive and the cut-back in worldwide travel delivered massive cuts in transport emissions.
If the world could keep up annual emission cuts like this without a pandemic for a couple of decades, there was a decent chance Earth could avoid warming another 1C (1.8F) of warming from now, authors of the study said. Washington state, for example, saw a more than 40 percent drop in emissions during its peak confinement, whereas the pandemic swallowed up just under 18 percent of Iowa's emissions during its peak. The analysis shows that daily Carbon dioxide emissions declined by 17 percent at the height of the stay-at-home measures, an "extreme" drop driven by a reduction in surface level transport and industrial activity.
A cut to manufacturing activity that spread to the United States, Europe and India resulted in a substantial cut to energy use across both electricity generation and manufacturing. If certain restrictions remain in place until the end of the year, average emissions may decline by 7% from last year. The team says a decrease in surface transport, such as vehicle travel, contributed 43 percent of this reduction, while declining emissions from industrial sources and power generation contributed another 43 percent. A full 10% of the drop comes from flights, which normally account for 3% of global carbon emissions.
The researchers said that the fall in emissions was only slightly offset by increases in residential emissions, as people work from home increasing demand on residential energy use.
The biggest global drop was from April 4 through 9 when the world was spewing 18.7 million fewer tonnes of carbon pollution a day than on New Year's Day. According to their projections on the impacts of easing restrictions around the globe, the total emissions for 2020 will only amount to a four to seven percent reduction on the 2019 figure.
Such low global emission levels have not been recorded since 2006.
"Opportunities exist to make real, durable, changes and be more resilient to future crises, by implementing economic stimulus packages that also help meet climate targets, especially for mobility, which accounts for half the decrease in emissions during confinement".
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